Superficial analysis, thy name is “When can I call myself a feminist again?” by Caille Millner
She’s embarrassed by the dinosaur doyennes of the US Feminist Second Wave engaging in activism for the upcoming election, and so she’s throwing the word “feminist” out of her wardrobe. Huh? Not to defend a few stupid things said by Steinem, Ferraro or Jong, but so what if some women coming out of retirement are not actually as up to the minute as they were when they were at the height of the protest movement? Seems to me like female elder statesmen are being held to a much higher standard, to the point of being expected to be moral exemplars, than any male elder statesmen ever are. You know, I think there’s a special terminology for that sort of phenomenon.
Even including Jong as a “leader” is a stretch – she was a novelist, and Ferraro was a politician, so Millner’s actually just left with Steinem as a genuine Second Wave doyenne – i.e. just one embarrassing doyenne is enough for her to reject the movement. Well, who can blame her? Everyone knows embarrassment kills more young women than breast cancer and car crashes combined.
In light of recent discussions in the femblogosphere about the limitations of white middle-class feminism for women in other socioeconomic groups who seek social justice, watch Millner provide a perfect example of fluffy middle-class “fun feminist” I’ve Got Mine So You Can Bugger Off thinking:
“I don’t focus on talking about gender equality,” said Rebecca Weeks, who is my age – 29 – and has what might be considered a “feminist” career as the head of business development for a comprehensive community for women on the Internet, divinecaroline.com. “I prefer to show men and women that I can negotiate, take care of finances, and work to anyone’s ability.”
Less talking means less whining and less identity politics. I like it.
Weeks adds that she “doesn’t get too involved in talking about politics. I’d much rather go out and be the change than argue for the change.” Yes. This is sounding good. This is sounding empowering, rather than depressing.
“The new behaviors we’re seeing in young women – buying their own homes, starting their own businesses, traveling the world – these aren’t revolutionary behaviors,” Weeks went on. “It’s the attitude of these women that’s truly progressive. They’re not angry at men for historical grievances. They’re just trying to take advantage of all these different opportunities without having anyone get in their way, male or female.”
Of course! This is my life – and Weeks’ life – and the life of virtually every other young woman we know. When and why did this perspective become incompatible with feminism?
Right, so long as middle and upper class women can use their social capital to gain the lifestyle that used to be confined to middle and upper class men, then gender equality is all sorted out. Any other women whose circumstances don’t allow them the advantages that middle and upper class women have and who can’t just buy their own homes and start their own businesses are just whining about gender equality, obviously, and making her feel uncomfortable and all as well, and they should just shut up please so that Carol can enjoy planning her next overseas holiday.
I’m sure I have failed to flagellate some other choice nuggets in this column. Go ahead and do some eviscerating of your own in comments.